Digitalist Agenda: Places to Be in Spring 2018

Stephanie Overby

The leading edge of the digital economy is wherever innovators gather.

Mar 22
Manufacturing Transformation

Stuttgart, Germany

Pete Swabey, Credit: Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s EMEA editorial director and a global tech sector leader, hosts a few manufacturing-specific roundtables throughout Europe each year. The intimate setting gives select C-level and senior management attendees the chance for give-and-take discussion about sector trends. Held in Speisemeisterei restaurant on the grounds of Stuttgart’s Hohenheim Castle, this gathering will explore how established firms can benefit from digital opportunities the same way as small upstarts and whether they can learn from digital native companies how to improve collaboration across ecosystems. Drinks precede the keynote and discussion—followed by dinner, when conversation is bound to grow more frank.


Mar 26–27
Africa CEO Forum

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Credit: WHO /L. Cipriani

This is only the second Africa CEO Forum to be hosted on the continent, held this year in the Ivorian economic capital of Abidjan. The 2017 Geneva event brought together more than 1,000 business leaders, investors, and policy makers from 70-plus countries and focused on how to better engage young people and women in business growth and innovation. This is an active networking event; organizers say 80% of participants identified or closed on new business deals last year. Expected attendees include Unilever CEO Paul Polman, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, World Health Organization director general Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Mediterranean Shipping Company CEO Diego Aponte, and NSIA Group chairman Jean Kacou Diagou. Content will be wide ranging—from macroeconomic plenary sessions, CEO interviews, industry and regional panels, investment pitches, and case studies—and centered on the theme Shaping the Future of Africa.


Apr 9–12
I-COM Global Summit

San Sebastián, Spain

Kate Sirkin, Credit: Kate Sirkin

Eighty percent of the invitation-only crowd attending this global forum for marketing data and measurement are senior leaders. The summit offers them an environment to explore case studies (more than 100 are featured), find digital ecosystem partners, and explore emerging best practices. Left brain and right brain meet to explore the theme The Reality Disruption Field at this Bay of Biscay resort town. Speakers, including Kantar Media chairman and CEO Andy Brown, Publicis Media EVP Kate Sirkin, and GroupM Analytics chief data officer and CEO Harvey Goldhersz, will discuss accelerating the pace of transformation. Pre- and post-summit activities include meetups, data science hackathons, a Basque culinary outing, and a trip to the Rioja wine region.


Apr 30–May 3
Collision

New Orleans

Credit: Collision Facebook Page

Collision organizers take umbrage at those who have called the nascent Crescent City event the new SXSW Interactive. But corporate leaders weary of the Austin routine, the Vegas CES scene, or Mobile World’s Barcelona gathering may find their tech show interest reinvigorated at this event, which is in its third year in New Orleans. Recent attendees said Collision hits the sweet spot between small and massive tech events, though perhaps not for long, with some 25,000 attendees expected this year. The 2017 agenda featured C-level presos from Facebook, BitMoji, Coca-Cola, and Wells Fargo, alongside talks by musician Wyclef Jean, journalist Walter Isaacson, NFL players, and NASA astronauts. In a genius bit of scheduling, Collision is wedged between the two weekends of Jazz Fest, enticing participants to come for the conference and stay for the party.


Jun 5–7
SAPPHIRE NOW

Orlando, FL

Hasso Plattner, Credit: Hasso-Plattner-Institut

Now in its 29th year, SAP’s annual conference is the elder statesman of this roundup. But SAPPHIRE NOW, co-hosted with the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG), is all about the new, offering opportunities to learn real-world best practices from early technology adopters and to understand the latest digital business trends with keynotes from top SAP leaders—CEO Bill McDermott, executive board member Bernd Leukert, and chairman Hasso Plattner—along with innovation demos from SAP’s growing partner ecosystem, including IBM, Deloitte, Infosys, HPE, NextLabs, EY, and HCL Global Systems. The gathering always ends with an arena concert on Thursday; past headliners have included Coldplay, Muse, Jennifer Lopez, and Jon Bon Jovi.


Stephanie Overby

About Stephanie Overby

A Boston-based journalist, Stephanie Overby has covered everything from Wall Street to weddings during her career. She is currently focused on the implications of digital transformation.